Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came under heavy fire from his right-wing constituency and member of his own Likud Party this week after suggesting he was ready to uproot more Jews from the biblical Land of Israel in the name of “peace.”
In a nationally-broadcast Knesset speech on Monday, Netanyahu laid out the main points of the peace proposal he will present when he addresses the US Congress next week.
Netanyahu stated that he will not relinquish the large Jewish settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria, but said he was prepared to offer “painful compromises” that will require uprooting Jews living in more isolated communities throughout the biblical heartland.
“These compromises are painful, because we are talking about parts of our homeland. It’s not a foreign country. It is the land of our forefathers and we have historical rights here, and not just security interests,” Netanyahu continued.
Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon responded on Tuesday, saying Netanyahu is mistaken if he believes a small military presence in areas like the Jordan Valley are enough to ensure Israel’s security.
Speaking at a conference highlighting Jewish agricultural success in the Jordan Valley, Ya’alon, a former Israeli army chief, explained that Israel won’t be able to maintain long-term security in any area where Jews don’t live.
Transportation Minister Israel Katz said the evacuation Netanyahu is prepared to offer would be the largest single displacement of Jews since the Spanish Inquisition, and would dwarf the Gaza pullout.
Danny Dayan, head of the council that oversees Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, told Israel National News that Netanyahu is now caving to international pressure, and betraying even simple security truths that the prime minister is well aware of.
For instance, Dayan noted that “settlement blocs alone are not enough. For security, we require control over the mountain ridge, the entire Jordan Valley, and the areas that overlook Ben Gurion Airport.”
Despite Netanyahu’s readiness to compromise and meet key Arab demands, top Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat declared that Israel is not a true peace partner because Netanyahu did not surrender to all Arab demands.
“I believe negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are over,” Erekat told a gathering of Palestinian and extreme left-wing Israeli activists on Monday night.
The Palestinians demand that in addition to uprooting hundreds of small Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, Israel must also hand over half of Jerusalem and open its borders to millions of foreign-born Arabs claiming refugee status.
In his Knesset speech, Netanyahu rejected those demands, and pointed out that the root of the Israeli Arab conflict is not 1967, the year Israel gained control of Judea and Samaria, but rather 1948, the year the Arab world tried to snuff out the nascent Jewish state.
Netanyahu said the real problem is the decades-old Arab refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people.